Alright kiddies, this is the first chaptered Kingdom Hearts fic I've ever attempted. Thus, if it SUCKS, please put me out of my misery. Thanks.

I would suggest having at least minimal knowledge of an arcade DDR machine and how it works before you read this, because you may get a bit confused otherwise. If you do possess this knowledge, forgive me for insulting your intelligence. :x

Pairings to look for: Soriku, Akuroku, and…Demyx with Xigbar (no cute name for it yet!), and maybe a few more along the way, depending on which characters show up. :D


Bling, chink, bling bling, clop, rollrollroll, clomp. "Shit!"

"Hey, man, you gotta relax. Every time the ball goes there you freak out and totally bomb the game." The boy playing the pinball machine knew that he was about to get an educational lecture, but this was one time when he both wanted and needed one. Axel was right; he did freak out when the ball slid down there. A hand much tanner than his covered him with its palm, slightly cool, showing him how to make a slight groove. "See? The second the ball hits the blue, do this. The table'll tip and the thing will go right back out where you want it."

The knowing friend smiled easily, sliding another coin into the machine with the tip of his finger. He backed away, watching his 'apprentice' expectantly.

The game lasted about a minute before the ball rolled straight towards the dreaded blue lane, right on schedule. He saw Riku tense at the controls, but, as usual, the boy pulled through and gently rotated on the button, flipping the ball back into glorious free space.

"You were right, Axel. As usual."

"Don't sound so glum about it," Axel replied, running a hand haughtily through fire engine red hair. "If I'm the king, you're the prince. We're the only royal ones in here." Riku, eyes still on his newly progressing game, blew a stand of silver from his face, a gesture Axel saw in the pinball machine's glossy reflection. The older boy grinned and patted his friend on the shoulder. "I'm hungry; I'm going to get some pizza." The food court offered a variety of foods, but Axel never seemed to want anything but pizza. Axel probably tasted like pizza, too, if anyone was ever cannibalistic enough to sample a bit.

As the tall boy walked away, Riku thought to himself, The king and the prince. What a dork. But he really did find the idea amusing. For months Axel had been commonly called the king, but Riku'd never considered himself in that equation. Even though he'd gotten there first, he wasn't bitter that Axel had gotten his bearings so quickly. Some people were just born to play games.

The arcade was their life. Almost every day one or the both of them came, Axel more often than Riku, to drown out the dull details of their lives. They were well-known in the area, too. If either of them didn't show up for more than three days, someone would probably send out a search party—that's how important Arcanum was to them. Arcanum was the arcade's name, located in Skyscraper Mall, which, unlike most malls, was taller than it was long, earning its name.

Riku had mostly played console games. He only started coming here a year ago, after he got a job and had money in his pockets to pilfer away. His family hated him for it. While other teenagers were dating and driving cars, Riku was staring at a screen. He had tons of friends and admirers, despite his religious gaming habits, mostly because of his good looks. Axel was the only one he was true to; everyone else saw the specialty Riku Mask, one crafted from isolation and the effect of having people like you only because you're attractive. But they didn't expect anything unfair of him, which was good. As long as he was there to make an impression or pretend to be someone's boyfriend, people liked him.

Axel was different. People, girls and guys alike, followed him because not only was he good-looking but his entire existence was fascinating. He was smart but agreeable, non-threatening, and crazy. It only took one look for people to drop what they were doing and waft after him.

Ever since he'd first been old enough to comprehend arcade games, Axel frequented. But he'd only just moved here a year ago, making friends with Riku, and thus dragging the silver-haired boy along with him. The move took away at least a whole week of gaming, and Axel was almost livid with tension. Riku followed for fear of being killed.

But it was clear—Axel's purpose in life was to play arcade games. To Riku, they weren't as fun as console games, but they were a challenge. Axel insisted he begin to play. It seemed that the older teen really did get lonely easily and would refuse to go anywhere without a friend, and if Riku was going to be tagging along anyway, he might as well pick up the trade.

Arcanum was cozy, with colourful red, blue, and green flooring with crazy patterns and painted walls. Graffiti artists had been hand-picked to paint the walls here, and they did a great job. The arcade was deep and T-shaped, branching out. Games lined every inch of wall they could and were arranged in easily maneuverable ways in the centre of the walkway. The service counter was at the back wall, visible to mall patrons if they squinted through the games' bright lights enough.

The front of the arcade was lit up with rows of flashing, blinking bulbs in blue and green. The trapezoidal sign announced in cheerful neon Arcanum, with two stars above it.

The first time Axel had ever seen it, he went starry-eyed, raving about how much better it was than the one in that backwater mall he used to visit. That day, Riku gained a new appreciation for the arcade; he'd never given it a second look.

"Damnit," Riku cursed, pounding a fist firmly on the machine. At least it hadn't been the damned blue lane this time; he'd been daydreaming again. The lights were supposed to catch people's attention, but Riku thought he must be hopelessly ADD.

Well, that was enough pinball for today. Time to unwind. At the right end of the T was his precious machine, Dance Dance Revolution. The one game in the entire arcade he was better at than Axel. That was mostly because Axel would miss a step and slip out a string of curses, startling younger kids, and lose interest in the rest of the song.

Those who passed through occasionally offered Riku some challenge at the game, but it was just no fun to be the best at a game usually played with others. Axel was the arcade king. What kind of king couldn't play DDR?

As he was inserting his four tokens, Axel's flaming hair caught his eye. "Back already?"

"Mhm," Axel muttered out, mouth stuffed with pizza. There was a bit of sauce on his chin, which Riku wiped away with a sigh.

"You didn't bring any for me, did you?"


"Thought so, ho bag." Axel's eyes narrowed.

"Hph!" he cried, and then swallowed. "Hey! You never said you wanted any."

"Nope." It was a bad idea to dance on a full stomach anyway.

Axel glared at the machine angrily. After a few seconds of an engaged staring contest with something that had no eyes, he huffed.

"What?" Riku chided, choosing a song. He needed something cheery and sickeningly upbeat. Love Love Sugar would take care of that. "It's not like it's ever personally offended you."

"Sure has," the redhead objected. "It exists in my arcade."

"It isn't your arcade," the younger boy pointed out before getting in position. Axel nearly gagged as the screen went pink and a cutesy Japanese voice invited them to "Jump! Jump! Jump!" When candy started pouring down the screen Axel left, crinkling his pizza's wax wrapping.

"You'd better not throw that on the floor, deadbeat," the employee warned. Axel, unfazed, smiled charmingly and replied, "You shouldn't be so mean to your best customer."

"Get a life, kid."

"You spend just as much time here as I do and you're older than me," Axel pointed out.

"…Touché," the employee finally said.

"And those uniforms are awful. And you're missing an eye."

"Oh my gosh, I didn't even notice!" the man at the counter spazzed sarcastically. Axel also wanted to point out how lumpy the employee shirt looked and that the guy's hair was also grey in odd places, but the games called. This was a waste of time. He blew the man a kiss and bounced off.

Now, Xigbar wasn't exactly thrilled to be working in an arcade in the first place, but it was cocky kids, namely Axel and Riku, that made it worse. Sure, Riku was good at DDR (as evidenced by the fact that he hadn't missed a single arrow on his song so far) and a host of other games, and Axel played the machines like an expert violinist, so they had a reason for the ego, but…

He sighed. Being up front put him in the public view, so he had to interact with more than a few people who gaped openly at his eye patch and scar, and a few parents had left complaints, but Xigbar's boss didn't often listen to logic. This is a nice way to say the boss was flipping crazy. He'd inherited Arcanum and never wanted it, and panicked easily. Xigbar had it handled, though. His strength was keeping people in check and staying in control, even if he had to threaten to remove his eye patch to do so. Either way, Xigbar was paid to stand at the counter, count tickets, distribute prizes, and work the laser tag room in the back. Besides, Arcanum grew on him. At least he wasn't flipping burgers or trapped in a cubicle. And he was the main employee, so he got paid often.

But the lumpy navy blue uniform shirt had to go.

Riku was getting into his game now, choosing a more difficult song (difficult as in suicidal), Tsugaru, leaning against the arm post and letting his feet do the work. Axel was manipulating a small wheel as though he was having a love affair with it. He almost missed the two newcomers: an attractive blond with a brunet in tow who could have been his twin. The spinning wheel died pathetically as he abandoned it and turned to watch the new boys.

Today just got a whole lot better.

Lots of love love sugar for anyone who reviews! And brownie points to you for making it all the way down here (unless you cheated, in which case I will now Sora!pout and make you feel guilty).

If you see any errors (like the wrong words used and such) let me know! Thanks. :D